Monday, September 20, 2010

Actress Italian-Style.

Jose here.

As I was watching The Story of Adele H. yesterday it struck me how Isabelle Adjani is still one of the few actresses to have been Oscar nominated more than once for performances in a foreign language.
Only twelve actresses have received Best Actress nominations for non-English speaking roles (the Academy usually waits for them to work in Hollywood and then reward them...see Simone Signoret, Juliette Binoche, Ingrid Bergman and Penélope Cruz) and out of these ladies, only three have repeated; Adjani (75 and 89), Liv Ullmann (72 and 76) and Sophia Loren (61 and 64).
Out of them only Ms. Loren won.

This bears repeating and celebrating today, more than any other time, because it happens to be her birthday.
She was born, wait for it, 76 years ago in Rome where she spent her childhood dancing, playing the piano and migrating to the country after she was injured during an attack in WWII.
A shrapnel during a bombing hit her chin forcing her parents to leave the city to protect their daughter.
Shallow intermission but can you imagine if something else had happened to her face?
She became to be known the world over as a sex symbol and one of the most beautiful women that ever lived. Guess things happen for a reason huh?

Besides her blessed physiognomy Loren is also a phenomenal actress. Did you know she's the most awarded actress in history next only to Meryl Streep?
Watching Sophia play earthy characters and vamps is always a treat but I guess my favorite performance of hers is in the movie version of Verdi's Aida. She has never seemed more vulnerable and larger than life for me.

Take a look at her legendary face and tell us what's your favorite Sophia Loren film?


Burning Reels said...

For some reason, Sophia Loren is an actress who has thus far pretty much evaded me - shall I begin with her Oscar nominated work?

Paul Outlaw said...

Anything from 1958-1968 is worth watching for Loren at her most breathtakingly beautiful. Personally, I think her best American and Italian work is in the films released 1958-1962 and her films directed by DeSica.

illnaa said...

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow - especially when she plays the prostitute

cal roth said...

A Special Day, easily, is her best performance. The best movie she atrred in is El Cid, by Anthony Mann.

Andrew R. said...

I never really liked Sophia Loren...I strongly disagree with her win and her other nomination I haven't seen. And her other performances weren't very good.

aclp said...

Sophia and Isabelle are two of the most beautiful women who have ever lived.

Adjani was breathtaking at 19 in Adele H. and otherworldly stunning at 40 in Queen Margot.

cca said...

Just one small correction, both Juliette Binoche's nominations were in english speaking roles... Although she probably came closer with her french speaking role in "Blue"

cca said...

Sorry, there's no correction to make, I had misunderstood the sentence..

cal roth said...

Andrew, I've seen her second nomination, and the movie is awful, just like her performance.

She deserved her Oscar for Two Women, but you can't deny Wood was the best nominee.

Mich M said...

Isabelle Adjani deserved that Oscar for The Story of Adele H. So talented, and the most beautiful woman I've ever laid eyes on.

Anonymous said...

Though it's the only one I've seen, I can't imagine liking any performance of Loren's more than the one in Two Women.

She's breathtaking in the few scenes I've caught of Man of La Mancha, however.

Dame James said...

As excellent as Loren is in Two Women, my favorite performance of hers is in this 1954 Italian screwball comedy called Too Bad She's Bad. She plays the cool, alluring (while also infuriating) romantic lead to Marcello Mastroianni (natch) in full on David Huxley mode while Vittorio De Sica plays her fast-talking father. She's a total delight and refreshingly funny.

Andrew R. said...

@Cal Roth-I'm inclined to take your word about the second nomination, because you are not the only person I've heard who hated it.

But I can name five performances I liked A LOT better than Loren's from that year. And I don't think Wood was the best nominee, though she's a contender.

My choice: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's

Also: Piper Laurie (The Hustler), Natalie Wood (Splendor in the Grass), Marlene Dietrich (Judgement at Nuremberg), Shirley MacLaine (Children's Hour).

And the Academy goes with Sophia Loren. *headwhump*

cal roth said...

Mich M., Adjani deserved to win both times she was nominated (sorry, Pfeiffer), but you know that she didn't took the César for Best Actress for Adele H. in France? Yes, there were an even better performance (how can you grade "legendary"?): Romy Schneider in That Most Important Thing Love.

For actressexuals, Romy's turn is one of the three that inspired Almodovar to make All About My Mother. The two others are Bette Davis in All About Eve and Gena Rowlands in Opening Night. That's why he dedicated All About My Mother to Bette, Gena and Romy.

It's unbeliavable, but not even Adjani (she gave the best Oscar-nominated performance of the 70's, IMO, second to Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence) is better than Schneider in That Most Important Thing Love.

Mirko said...

it's great that you recall Schneider in Zulawsky's movie. I also think she was outstanding in THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS LOVE, definitely my fav perf from that particular year. it's really sad that Academy never fell for adorable Romy!

regarding Sophia, even if I can't stand her works post PRET-A-PORTER, she showed to be a skilled actress and not just a gorgeous woman

my top-10
1) TWO WOMEN (of course...and I think her oscar was well deserved even if I like Hepburn and Wood too)
2) A SPECIAL DAY (her deglam role)
3) THE GOLD OF NAPLES (her breakthrough)
4) EL CID (love this movie very much!)
5) MARRIAGE ITALIAN-STYLE (a quite unconventional Filomena but still gorgeous and earthy)
7) BOCCACCIO '70 (soldi, soldi, soldi)
8) TOO BAD SHE'S BAD (when Sophia met Marcello)
9) NEAPOLITAN CAROUSEL (the best italian musical ever...well, there aren't so much actually)
10)PRET-A-PORTER ("I was fourteenth")

Then there is her encounter with Cukor (HELLER IN PINK TIGHTS) and the one with Chaplin (THE COUNTESS FROM HONG KONG), the movies with Cary Grant, THE MILLIONAIRESS starring Peter Sellers, BOY ON THE DOLPHIN, IL SEGNO DI VENERE with the great Franca Valeri, SCANDAL IN SORRENTO (ehi, mambo! mambo italiano!!!)
auguri, donna Sophia!!!

cal roth said...

Oh, Mirko, I love El Cid, too. It's so brilliant, so arresting, and it's a solid proof Charlton Heston was a helluvan actor. He is so perfect in it, entranced by Loren's beautiful eyes.

Anthony Mann is a God of cinema, the most underestimated director of his era because he couldn't even get a foreign cult, like Samuel Fuller, for example. Mann had masterpieces from noir (Raw Deal, top 3 noir ever) to western (The Man From Laramie and The Furies, aka my favorite dramatic performance of Barbara Stanwyck) to epic, this El Cid. Love this movie.

Mirko said...

Cal, what's your opinion about WINCHESTER '73, maybe my Mann's fav?

great what you wrote about EL CID director, it's true that he was a giant and the fact that people dismiss his work is frankly unacceptable.

EL CID almost made my top 5 of 1961. Heston is better here than in his oscar worthy (?) perf in BEN HUR; Sophia is ravishing and John Fraser-Genevieve Page steal the show as the incestuous royal siblings (Fraser is also in my line-up for best supporting actor, no matter was not normally a thespian considered during the awards season). art direction and score are top notch!

cal roth said...

@Mirko I've seen all his westerns with James Stewart, and I think that in Winchester 73 Mann was only rehearsing his major greek family tragedies. For example, you don't feel in it a sense of family the same way it is explored in The Man From Laramie. The family ties are only unveieled when the movies ends.

In The Man From Laramie, it is vastly explored, and that's why the violence in it is much more brutal. Or in The Far Country, the father-son relationship between Stewart and Walter Brennan make THAT death and the scene in which a body is carried by horse absolutely unbearable.

Or even before Winchester 73 and Stewart, in The Furies and Stanwyck's war against her father... All these movies work better for me than Winchester 73 because you can experience these family ties, instead of only being informed of them.

Mann was very good with these family stories, like a western Douglas Sirk, and in my opinion, an even better director.

Dave in Alamitos Beach said...

Can I just talk about Isabelle for a moment? I always think of her as such a beautiful, still porcelain beauty, and yet whenever she's in a great movie she plays crazy unhinged better than any other actress in the world: Camille Claudel, Adele H., Queen Margot, etc.

Wayne said...

I love Sophia Loren. My favorite performances: Two Women; A Special Day; Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow; Houseboat, The Millionairess. I've never seen El Cid, but the posts here have convinced me to check it out.


this thread is reminding me that it's been WAY too long since i watched an ADJANI movie. She's so breathtaking.

Anonymous said...

Adjani just got her record 5th Cesar award back in March this year for "Skirt Day". Can't wait to see it coming to N. America. In the meantime, thanks for reminding how great she was in Camille Claudel and The Story of A. H.". And yes, she's the most beautiful woman that I've ever seen in film.